Prince Markie Dee, who was a member of the Fat Boys hip-hop group, died Thursday, according to the group’s manager. He was 52.
No cause of death was given by group manager Louis Gregory, Rolling Stone reported.
“Forever in my Heart. Prince Markie Dee was more than a rapper; he was one of my very best and closest friends,” Gregory wrote on Twitter. “My heart breaks today because I lost a brother. I’ll always love you Mark and I’ll cherish everything you taught me. Tomorrow is your birthday, swing my way big bro.”
TMZ also reported the artist’s death.
Prince Markie Dee was born Mark Anthony Morales on Feb. 19, 1968. He teamed with Darren Robinson (the Human Beatbox) and Damon Wimbley (Kool Rock Ski) and performed under the name The Disco 3 before changing the group’s name to the Fat Boys, according to Rolling Stone.
The group debuted in 1983 when it won a talent contest at Radio City Music Hall in New York City, the magazine reported. By the end of the decade the Fat Boys had become one of rap’s top groups, noted for their beatboxing and funny sense of humor.
That persona helped bring rap music into the mainstream, according to Rolling Stone.
The group’s 1988 cover version of “The Twist” with Chubby Checker hit No. 16 on Billboard’s Hot 100 chart.
Their first two albums -- 1984′s self-titled debut and 1985′s “The Fat Boys Are Back -- included hits such as “Can You Feel It?” “Jail House Rap,” and “The Fat Boys Are Back.”
The Fat Boys had a brief Hollywood career, appearing in “Krush Groove” and “Disorderlies.”
Prince Markie Dee later had his own radio show on SiriusXM’s Rock the Bells station.